Vendors fight to the death for right to sell

Choi Song Min  |  2015-07-01 09:49
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A massive brawl between Ministry of People's Security [MPS] agents and vendors at a marketplace in Musan County last Friday has led to an urgent dispatch of county security agents along with the complete shuttering of the market. The clash occurred after angry vendors tried to resist the confiscation of their goods by market surveillance authorities, Daily NK has learned. 

When the agents who manage the market took away manufactured goods from the vendors, they got upset and started arguing with the agents. Soon other merchants and officials nearby joined in and it ended up turning into a free-for-all between the two groups, a source in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Sunday. 

This incident was corroborated by an additional source in the same province.

"An altercation that started with cursing and fistfights turned into mayhem as crowds watching got agitated and joined in with weapons, resulting in many casualties," he said, noting that armed agents with the State Security Department [SSD] and the MPS from the country were dispatched and after shutting down the market they hauled off everyone involved, including the injured and deceased.

The confrontation occurred unexpectedly and the site was immediately sealed off, making it hard to estimate exactly how many were involved. However, the source said dozens are thought to have been injured on either side.

A witness at the scene described the market as being jam packed and thick with an atmosphere of intimidation hanging over what really amounted to a riot, he said.

Anger has been brewing among Musan County residents at a level unseen before, as a severe drought that has lasted for several months now has ruined their June potato harvest as well, putting their livelihoods at risk, according to the source. The crackdown on market goods was seen as adding insult to injury and ignited peoples pent-up frustrations, explained the source. 

"The market has been closed for two days now until the 27th due to this incident, which is making peoples lives even harder," he explained. "County MPS officials have dispatched local handlers to the region and are holding inminban [peoples unit] meetings to ensure this incident or any groundless rumors surrounding it dont spread. 

Notably, residents have not raised questions as to why such an incident would have occurred, with many suggesting something larger needs to happen. Most agree authorities brought the incident upon themselves by cracking down on people during such difficult times, the source reported. 

*The content of this article was broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.

*Translated by Matt Wie

 
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